22 OCTOBER 2019


Performance pays. This is a true statement and most of us do believe in this old adage. Everywhere we go, we find people trying to outsmart each other in the quest for getting to the top. In this competitive world, the moment a child is born, he or she is put in the middle of competition either knowingly or unknowingly.

Their schooling is the next pressure point where they are bombarded with so much that some of us may wonder - Did, we ever do half of what they are accomplishing at their age. This so-called competition or may I call it pressure, passes on to parents as well with children’s projects needed to be completed in quick time. While in college, the scene is no different with students vying for the 95th percentile or higher and lastly, there is a lot of pressure in the current corporate world as well, where profits are eroding, skills are short lived and technology is rapidly changing.

Given all these pressures, one would begin to think that amidst all these challenges if one succeeds, they definitely deserve the top position. There is no harm in this approach. However, the challenge would arise when the person would expect to be considered a star for that moment of glory and always, irrespective of their current performance. This is when the star status is questionable and up for debate.

The most dangerous phrase in the language is “we’ve always done it this way.”

Grace Hopper

A few points for one to ponder, especially when he or she attains the status of a 'star' for the first time.

Avoid being over confident:

Too much of anything is bad – even performance, as it could get to one’s head and the person may tend to become arrogant. Top performances definitely warrant anyone to become a star, but it takes humility, passion and a mindset of continuous learning to remain at the top. Even the best of technologies has gone obsolete in the years gone by. All of us know of Kodak, Nokia and more. Complacency is one of the biggest reasons for the downfall of many – be it individuals or corporations. We all know what happened to the Titanic, though its Captain Edward John Smith, on its maiden voyage, proclaimed to the world that it was ‘unsinkable’.

Aim for consistency:

While it takes a lot of hard work to get to the top, there is no guarantee that one will retain that pole position for eternity. The key here is consistency. When one is second in the race, there is a lot of motivation to beat the leader as they have someone to beat. However, the moment you overtake the number one, then you are in a league of your own, competing with yourself by setting your own standards. It’s at that moment that you get a great opportunity to portray true leadership skills, strategizing and executing at the same time. Consistency comes with an attitude to win and to be at the top. It brings in resilience, courage and ambition to do different things and to embrace constant changes that the world is throwing at you.

Despite being one of the greatest, the game of cricket has ever seen, it took the all-time great Indian cricketer Sachin Tendulkar to play one full year across 34 innings to get past a world record of being the first player in the history of the game to notch up 100 centuries in cricket.

Do not rest on past laurels:

When change is the only constant and all of us are bombarded with disruptions by way of technological changes, Industry changes, climatic changes and more, innovation can be the main driver for sustenance. No one can really rest their case assuming that they will be invincible and receive benefits by virtue of their past. So, believing in one’s capability and potential is important and ensuring that the bar is raised every so often.

“Worrying gets you nowhere. If you turn up worrying about how you're going to perform, you've already lost. Train hard, turn up, run your best and the rest will take care of itself.” Usain Bolt

Be relevant:

In today’s age, everything changes so fast. Let’s look at the music industry where we have witnessed revolutionary progress. In a short span of close to 40 years, we have listened to music from multiple sources – Gramophone, Cassette player, Boom boxes, CD Players, MP3 music and now live streaming. So, if we want to continue enjoying music, we need to be open to change and be relevant with skills, knowledge and understanding of the new technologies that come our way. Similarly, Information Technology skills has changed from simple coding as recent as year 2000 to the current requirements to suit IoT based applications.

As the saying goes, it’s easy to get to the top, but rather difficult to hold onto the top position. So, one would need to change with time, hone current skills, adapt to the new and endure all that comes their way and yet be successful. That will help the top performer to be a star – yesterday, today and tomorrow. After all, a star is a star… as long as it shines!!

This article is written by Willis Langford. An unbiased, result driven & passionate HR professional who has a flair for technology and keen interest in making this world a better place with a zest for life.